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Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors
What is Sue and Settle?
"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties. These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.
As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.
Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website
|6/6/2016||CAA, Sierra Club
For failure to promulgate Federal Implementation Plan for Kentucky Good Neighbor provision
|5/17/2016||CAA, Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Environmental Health, and the Clean Air Council
Deadline suit for failure to submit and failure to act on 2008 ozone attainment SIPs
|4/27/2016||CAA, Finger Lakes Zero Waste Coalition, Inc
For failure to perform nondiscretionary duty under the CAA to respond to Petition filed on or about February 8, 2016, requesting that the Administrator object to the Title V operating permit for the Seneca Energy II, LLC, Ontario County Landfill Gas to Energy · Facility
|4/27/2016||CAA, Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health
For failure to timely review, revise and promulgate the Air Quality Criteria for Sulfur Oxides and the NAAQS for Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides as may be appropriate
|4/27/2016||CAA, Sierra Club, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles, WildEarth Guardians, and Center for Biological Diversity
For failure to perform non-discretionary duties related to the implementation of the 1997 NAAQS PM2.5 in the Los Angeles-South Coast Air Basin, CA nonattainment area
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.
What is New in Sue and Settle?
- 6/28: Platts | Environmental groups plan appeal of US fracking decision as debate swirls over impact
- 6/23: Bloomberg BNA | Coal Ash Rule to Cost Billions to Comply: Consultant
- 6/18: ABC News | Environmental Groups Threaten to Sue SC, Feds Over Seawalls
- 6/16: Wall Street Journal | SEC Opens Door to More Environmental Reporting in New Mining Disclosure Rules
- 6/16: Times-Standard | Lawsuit threatened over Pacific fisher
- 6/10: E&E | Enviros sue to force EPA action on Fairbanks soot plan
- 6/9: Law 360 | EPA Missed Deadlines for Emissions Review, Enviros Say
- 6/8: Spokesman | EPA to re-evaluate Idaho water quality standards for arsenic, rescind previous approval
- 6/8: Courthouse News Service | Forest-Plan Opponents Point to Wolf, Lynx & Bat
- 6/8: NJ Spotlight | Feds move to protect endangered Atlantic sturgeon in Delaware River
- 6/1: E&E Publishing | Enviros sue USDA program to stop wolf killing in Idaho (subscription required)
- 6/1: Heartlander | FWS Director Defends Obama Administration Handling of ESA Revisions, Lawsuits
See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive
What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?
Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases
Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.